May 5th, 2010

red panda eating bamboo

Twitter hash tags vs. Facebook "Connections"

This article is a somewhat fear-mongering but interesting discussion about the way Facebook streams posts and status updates.

I have a different take on what the problem is with the way Facebook is implementing the feature.

Whatever you tweet publicly shows up if someone searches for it on For example if you tweet "I like cows," then anyone searching for "cows" can find your tweet. Furthermore, if you use a hash tag -- "I like #cows" -- then an instant search link is created. So instead of going to and typing "cows," you can just click on the link and it will do the search for you.

Facebook also allows you to search on any term and shows you all the posts/status updates your friends made using that term, and all the public posts/status updates using that term.

Facebook also has a feature that works more or less the same way as Twitter hash tags -- if you type a word or phrase, you'll be offered an official Facebook page, called a "community page," that aggregates all the posts/status updates using that term. For "cows," the page is:

The community pages are not just aggregates, like hash tags, though. They are also supposed to represent a way to indicate your ongoing interest in a subject. At the top of the page this text appears:
Our goal is to make this Community Page the best collection of shared knowledge on this topic. If you have a passion for Cows, sign up and we'll let you know when we're ready for your help.
The page has a "Like" button, and if you click it, a link to the page will be created on your Facebook profile (Info page).

This is a really bad mixed metaphor. If I like something, am a fan of it, identify with it, or something else that makes me want to associate it with my profile, then I probably don't want to be expressing my interest in it by reading any random blather that happens to use the term. I discovered this problem when I went to the FB page for "bisexuality"-- -- and saw this post:
so, alice is my fav person in the l word, i relate to her alot, and i too think bisexuality is grose (not judging those who are, just sayin, pick one, j/k its confuseing.)

Context matters. If I clicked the "#bisexuality" has tag on Twitter, I wouldn't really be unpleasantly surprised by finding negative comments about it, because I know I'm viewing the results of a search as opposed to viewing a page where people are supposed to like it.

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